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Moravian Cookie Trail
Winston-Salem’s culinary history is so rich, we’re serving it up one trail at a time…
Throughout 2014, Winston-Salem is rolling out a culinary trail series that celebrates our deep Moravian food roots. The culinary series is a trio of virtual trails (which means you can start, stay or stop wherever you please!) with each serving up a healthy portion of our history, delectable, tried-and-true recipes and our favorite places to stop, sample, and savor these distinct (and delicious) Moravian dishes and delights. We are kicking-off our series with the whisper-thin Moravian cookies, continuing with a savory stroll about all-things Moravian Chicken Pie (no, not "pot pie!") culminating with a salute to the yeasty, slightly sweet and buttery Moravian sugar cake. So whether you opt to travel the sweet, savory or sample a bit from each of the three paths, we hope you find our culinary trail the perfect way to explore our rich history and wake-up your taste buds in Winston-Salem!
The Culinary Trail's Sweet Cookie Kick-off....
With more than a million pounds baked here each year, Winston-Salem has been heralded as the epicenter of the Moravian Cookie production. This simple, but ever so sophisticated cookie, is a worldwide wonder for its incredibly rich (some may even say intense) flavors and incredibly thin form. Some bakers have even called it the "world's thinnest cookie." In an honorary nod to the thousands of batches of cookies consumed each year...we are kicking-off Winston-Salem's Culinary trail on a sweet note of all-things Moravian Cookies. Because the trail is an evolving path, we are constantly sprinkling it with new ideas, eateries and updates that serve up these historic sweet crisps in unexpected and modern ways.
Where to find Moravian Cookies in Winston-Salem:
Winkler Bakery in Old Salem
521 S Main St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
More than 200 years old, Winkler Bakery features the original wood-fired dome oven that has baked breads, cakes and confections since it was built in 1800.
Bakers in period costumes welcome visitors, offer samples, and make Moravian Sugar Cake and rosemary bread, too. (Because of the volume, today’s cookies are made in a larger bakery, offsite, but all of their wares are for sell here.) The Winkler cookie recipe is adapted and updated from historic versions originally baked in the wood-fired oven. Visitors can talk to real bakers working in the space and firing up the ovens with the same passion and energy shared by bakers hundreds of years ago. They offer samples, too!
Just down and across the street from Winkler Bakery, take a shopping excursion at T. Bagge Merchant. Originally built in 1775, this quaint shop is your headquarters for authentic Moravian crafts and gifts. While you’re there, imagine the scene when this historic location was the primary "grocery" and supplier of the ingredients and exotic spices this community used to bake their Moravian cookies. You can spend an entire day (and more) in Old Salem. The Winkler Bakery and T. Bagge Merchants are not ticketed stops—so they are free and open to the public during regular operating hours.
A Winston-Salem original since 1930, Dewey's Bakery is a household name, especially during the Easter, wedding and holiday seasons. Visit their bakeries at Thruway Shopping Center at 262 S Stratford Rd and at Reynolda Manor at 2820 Reynolda Road.
Throughout the year, Dewey’s bakery locations in Winston-Salem are filled with a bevy of confections and cookies. Then in November and December, like elves, multiple additional Dewey's locations open across North Carolina, offering an array of Moravian cookies, sugar cakes and oh yes, cheese straws.
Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies (Tours available)
4643 Friedberg Church Rd, Clemmons, NC 27012
Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies is nestled in the rolling hills of Clemmons, a suburb of our city. The public tours of this family-owned business provide visitors an inside peek of the cookie company in action. Here, “Artists in Aprons” hand roll, hand cut and hand package more than 110,000 pounds of dough each year. They bake six flavors: sugar, lemon (Mr. Hanes’ favorite), black walnut, chocolate, butterscotch and traditional Moravian ginger. Oprah Winfrey named this delicacy one of her “favorites” in 2010.
On a tour, you’re likely to meet Mrs. Evva Hanes, a seventh generation Moravian cookie maker and her husband Travis who started the company together. Today, their daughter Mona and son Mike work alongside them. Make reservations for tours here. (Note: Tours are not available during the busy holiday season, but you can still buy cookies at the bakery during the holidays.)
50 Miller Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27104
A gourmet gift shop, Salem Kitchen proudly carries Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies only. It’s the perfect stop before packing a picnic and heading out to visit a winery or one of our parks.
Restaurants with cookie creations are on the trail, too! We’ll be updating this list frequently:
Milner’s American Southern
630 South Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
Milner's American Southern is a family owned and operated full-service restaurant with menus boasting a delicious variety of Southern American classics re-imagined using contemporary culinary techniques. Brother Chefs John and Buddy Milner work tirelessly to source the freshest local and regional ingredients to create inspiring dishes. Order their signature Moravian Cookie and Pecan-Crusted Salmon served with sweet potato flapjacks, sautéed spinach, fennel slaw and vanilla bean beurre blanc. It’s always on the menu.
The Tavern at Old Salem (Tip: It’s just a block from Winkler Bakery at Old Salem Museums & Gardens.)
736 South Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
The Tavern at Old Salem serves up fresh Moravian cuisine and often sources their produce from the surrounding heirloom gardens of Old Salem. Cross your fingers they are serving homemade ice cream made with spicy ginger crumbs as a special. Or, sink your teeth into Chef Jared’s specialty menu item, Moravian Cookie Crusted Frenched Lamb Rack.
The Historic First Batches Were Baked....
To better navigate the Moravian Cookie Trail, one must first talk about the historical migration of its first bakers…the Moravians. In 1753, the Moravians—
a devout, religious group originally from Eastern Europe—were attracted to the central portion of North Carolina by to its fertile soil, abundant water and temperate climate. They settled on more than 100,000 pristine acres in the heart of our current city and called their new home the Wachovia Tract. Bethabara and Bethania are the earliest Moravian settlements along this expansive tract but it was in 1766 that the Moravians ultimately established the thriving community of Salem.
Soon, the Moravians' handiwork established what would become another hallmark of our city that survives to this day—a reputation for arts, culture and innovation. Their pioneering work as fine craftsmen and artisans of pottery, tannery, iron works, cloth and furniture making established the city of Salem as a sought-after trade center. Some hardcore culinarians might say that making the Moravian cookie is one of Salem’s greatest accomplishments, garnering worldwide fame and affection. In their earliest cooking chronicles and true to German heritage, the Moravians referred to the cookies as “cakes,” traditionally baked as treats for family and friends during the Christmas holidays. Although there are slight variations of the historic recipes or “receipts,” each call for rich, dense and dark molasses, ginger and aromatic cloves—robust hallmarks of the crispy treats.
Why Were These Flavors Chosen?
This is a popular question culinary historians like to chew on as they look at the history of the Moravian Cookie. Practicality and pragmatism—also trademarks of the Moravian culture—point to the use of the then exotic spices and flavorings. Ginger, clove and molasses were both hearty and available (through the trading partners that came into the area) These ingredients still tasted good after a long journey—or being stored a long time. Because most traditional recipes made such large batches of dough, not all the cookies were baked at once. Storing the dough for days or weeks during the winter months was commonplace. Bakers knew that as the dough rested, the flavors intensified.
Why Are These Cookies So Thin?
The cookies distinctively thin texture evolved over years of baking for several practical reasons. Certainly the thinner the cookie, the more dough there was to produce more cookies. The thinner cookies would also bake quickly so that the families could get on about their other baking and daily chores. Because of the generous amount of molasses called for in most recipes, a thicker cookie produced a harder cookie...think hard, tooth-jarring biscotti.
Want to try your hand at baking?
North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery recipe for Moravian Christmas Cake (Cookies)
Original publishing, 1955
|3/4 cup butter and lard or shortening, mixed||4 tablespoons ground cinnamon|
|3/4 cup brown sugar||4 tablespoons ground ginger|
|1 pint black molasses||1 teaspoon salt|
|7 1/2 cups sifted flour||1 tablespoon soda|
|4 tablespoons ground cloves||1/4 cup boiling water|
To Make Cookies*:
Cream butter and lard with sugar. Add molasses. Sift flour with spices and salt. Add soda to boiling water. Add flour mixture and soda water to creamed mixture.
Work well with the hands -- call in the man of the house (surely this step is optional) and let him work the dough if your hands are weak. "That's what Grandma used to do."
Cover and store in a cold place overnight, preferably longer. Roll to infinite thinness on board.
Bake on greased cookie sheets in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for a very few minutes or just until they begin to brown.
*These recipes call for a hefty quantity of ingredients and produce batches and batches of cookies. If you're considering whipping up a batch yourself, we recommend that you consider reducing the recipes by half.
A City of Arts & Innovation, Winston-Salem Reinvents the Moravian Cookie in a Modern Way...
Now that you've learned the technique at Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies and have the recipe to make your own at home, here's just one more tip for making this 18th century tradition all your own. Thanks to Salem Baking Co.'s executive pastry chef, Alison Turner, the beloved Moravian cookie has found new life in the world of hors d’oeuvres. Chef Turner has gotten rid of the cracker and replaced it with the sweet, textured palate of the Moravian cookie. Combinations such as ginger and bleu cheese, and lemon and mascarpone present a delightful sweet and savory taste to any dinner party or gathering.
Chef Turner receives our “cookie trail kudos” for transforming the historic cookie into modern-day hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy this list http://www.salembaking.com/recipes/ of her ingenious sweet and savory bites, or watch her video here for ideas on how to make your own creations at home.
Find Salem Baking's Moravian Cookies in displays in fine supermarkets and specialty stores across the United States. But you’ll ultimately find the largest collection of cookies and trendy flavors online at www.salembaking.com.
Salem Baking Company was founded in 1992 when Dewey’s Bakery couldn’t fulfill their rising demand. Today, the company bakes and distributes more than a million pounds of Moravian cookies nationwide annually. You’ll find a diverse, luscious flavor profile with this label—everything from chocolate-dipped and chocolate-enrobed Moravian Cookies to the traditional Ginger Spice selections to Meyer Lemon, Key Lime and more.
Check out this fun summer recipe that incorporates Salem Baking Co's Moravian cookies into a pineapple coconut ice cream recipe (pictured right): CLICK HERE.
Moravian Cookies in the Media
WRAL - Local Gifts We Love: Moravian Cookies
Raleigh News & Observer - Moravian Cookies Grow Beyond Winston-Salem
CountryLiving.com, the online website of Country Living Magazine – 4 Easy Ways to Serve North Carolina-Made Moravian Cookies
Carolina Travel Planner – Nibble Your Way Through Winston-Salem
DeepSouth Magazine - Nibble Your Way Through Winston-Salem